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object that had the highest reward—was to benefit his fellow-creatures. Barrow's sermons furnish abundant evidence of the comprehensiveness and vigour of his mind.]
“ Not slothful in business."-JAMES i. 26. I have largely treated on the duty recommended in this precept, and urged the observance of it in general, at a distance: I now intend more particularly and closely to apply it in reference to those persons who seem more especially obliged to it, and whose observing it may prove of greatest consequence to public good ; the which application may also be most suitable and profitable to this audience. Those persons are of two sorts; the one gentlemen, the other scholars.
1. The first place, as civility demandeth, we assign to gentlemen, or persons of eminent rank in the world, well allied, graced with honour, and furnished with wealth : the which sort of persons I conceive in a high degree obliged to exercise industry in business.
This, at first hearing, may seem a little paradoxical and strange ; for who have less business than gentlemen ? who do need less industry than they? He that hath a fair estate, and can live on his means, what hath he to do, what labour or trouble can be exacted of him, what hath he to think on, or trouble his head with, but how to invent recreations and pastimes to divert himself, and spend his waste leisure pleasantly? Why should not he be allowed to enjoy himself, and the benefits which nature or fortune have freely dispensed to him, as he thinketh best, without offence? Why may he not say with the rich man in the gospel, “ Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years : take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry?” Is it not often said by the wise man, that there is “ nothing better under the sun, than that a man should make his soul to enjoy good " in a cheerful and comfortable fruition of his estate? According to the passable notion and definition, “ What is a gentleman but his pleasure ?”
If this be true, if a gentleman be nothing else but this, then truly he is a sad piece, the most inconsiderable, the most despicable, the most pitiful and wretched creature in the world: if it is his privilege to do nothing, it is his privilege to be most unhappy; and to be so will be his fate if he will according to it; for he that is of no worth or use, who produceth no beneficial fruit, who performeth no service to God or to the world, what title can he have to happiness? What capacity thereof? What reward can he claim? What comfort can he feel ? To what temptations is he exposed ? What guilts will he incur?
But, in truth, it is far otherwise: to suppose that a gentleman is loose from business is a great mistake ; for, indeed, no man hath more • to do, no man lieth under greater engagements to industry than he.
He is deeply obliged to be continually busy in more ways than other men, who have but one simple calling or occupation allotted to them; and that on a triple account; in respect to God, to the world, and to himself.
1. He is first obliged to continual einployment in respect to God.
He, out of a grateful regard to divine bounty for the eminency of his station, adorned with dignity and repute, for the plentiful accommodations and comforts of his life, for his exemption from those pinching wants, those meaner cares, those sordid entertainments, and those toilsome drudgeries, to which other men are subject, is bound to be more diligent in God's service, employing all the advantages of his state to the glory of his munificent Benefactor, to whose good providence alone he doth owe them ; for " who maketh him to differ” from another? And what hath he that he did not receive from God's free bounty ?
In proportion to the bulk of his fortune, his heart should be enlarged with a thankful sense of God's goodness to him ; his mouth should ever be filled with acknowledgments and praise; he should always be ready to express his grateful resentment* of so great and peculiar obligations.
He should dedicate larger portions of that free leisure which God hath granted to him, in waiting on God, and constant performances of devotion.
He, in frequently reflecting on the particular ample favours of God to him, should imitate the holy Psalmist, that illustrious pattern of great and fortunate men; saying after him, with his spirit and disposition of soul, “ Thou hast brought me to great honour, and comforted . me on every side; therefore will I praise thee and thy faithfulness, O God.” “ Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong:" “ Thou hast set my feet in a large room :” “ Thou preparest a table before me:" “ Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over:” “ To the end that my glory may sing praise unto thee,
* Resentment is used by old writers in the sense of strong feeling in general. Its limitation to angry feeling is a modern use of the word.
II his benefasking himselring ways of
and not be silent:" “ The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup; thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage ;” therefore “ I° will bless the Lord.”
In conceiving such meditations, his head and his heart should constantly be employed; as also in contriving ways of declaring and discharging real gratitude; asking himself, “ What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits?” What shall I render to him, not only as a man, for all the gifts of nature; as a Christian, for all the blessings of grace; but as a gentleman also, for the many advantages of this my condition, beyond so many of my brethren, by special Providence indulged to me?
He hath all the common duties of piety, of charity, of sobriety, to discharge with fidelity; for being a gentleman doth not exempt him from being a Christian, but rather more strictly doth engage him to be such in a higher degree than others; it is an obligation peculiarly incumbent on him, in return for God's peculiar favour, to pay God all due obedience, and to exercise himself in all good works; disobedience being a more heinous crime in him, than in others who have not such encouragements to serve God.
His obedience may be inculcated by those arguments which Joshua and Samuel did use in pressing it on the Israelites : " Only,” said Samuel, “ fear the Lord, and serve him in truth : for consider how great things God hath done for you.” And, “ I have given you,” saith God by Joshua, “a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not; and ye dwell in them: of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not, do ye eat. Now, therefore, fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth.”
His disobedience may be aggravated, as Nehemiah did that of the Israelites : “ They took strong cities and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards and oliveyards, and , fruit trees in abundance; so they did eat, and were filled, and became
fat; and delighted themselves in thy great goodness: nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs.” “ They have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness, which thou gavest them; neither turned they from their wicked works.”
A gentleman hath more talents committed to him, and consequently
more employment required of him: if a rustic labourer, or a mechanic artizan, hath one talent, a gentleman hath ten; he hath innate vigour of spirit, and height of courage fortified by use; he hath accomplishment and refinement of parts by liberal education ; he hath the succours of parentage, alliance, and friendship; he hath wealth, he hath honour, he hath power and authority, he hath command of time and leisure ; he bath so many precious and useful talents intrusted to him, not to be “ wrapped up in a napkin,” or “ hidden under ground;" not to be squandered away in private satisfactions; but for negotiations, to be put out to use, to be improved in the most advantageous way to God's service. Every talent doth require a particular care and pains to manage it well.
He particularly is God's steward, intrusted with God's substance for the sustenance and supply of God's family; to relieve his fellowservants in their need, on seasonable occasions, by hospitality, mercy, and charitable beneficence; according to that intimation of our Lord, “ Who is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler of his household, to give them their portion and meat in due season?” And according to those apostolical precepts, “ As every one hath received a gift (or special favour), even to minister the same to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God:” and “ Charge the rich in this world, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”
And he that is obliged to purvey for so many, and so to abound in good works, how can he want business? How can he pretend to a writ of ease ? Surely that gentleman is very blind, and very barren of invention, who is to seek for work fit for him, or cannot easily discern many employments belonging to him, of great concern and consequence.
It is easy to prompt and show him many businesses, indispensably belonging to him, as such.
It is his business to administer relief to his poor neighbours, in their want and distresses, by his wealth. It is his business to direct and advise the ignorant, to comfort the afflicted, to reclaim the wicked, and encourage the good, by his wisdom. It is his business to protect the weak, to rescue the oppressed, to ease those who groan under heavy burdens, by his power; to be such a gentleman and so employed as Job was; who,“ did not eat his morsel alone, so that the fatherless did not eat thereof;" who “ did not withhold the poor from their desire, or cause the eyes of the widow to fail;" who “ did not see any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering;" who “ delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.”.
It is his business to be hospitable; kind and helpful to strangers ; following those noble gentlemen, Abraham and Lot, who were so ready to invite and entertain strangers with bountiful courtesy.
It is his business to maintain peace, and appease dissensions among his neighbours, interposing his counsel and authority in order thereto: whereto he hath that brave gentleman, Moses, recommended for his pattern.
It is his business to promote the welfare and prosperity of his country with his best endeavours, and by all his interest; in which practice the Sacred History doth propound divers gallant gentlemen (Joseph, Moses, Samuel, Nehemiah, Daniel, Mordecai, and all such renowned patriots) to guide him.
It is his business to govern his family well; to educate his children in piety and virtue; to keep his servants in good order.
It is his business to look to his estate, and to keep it from wasting; that he may sustain the repute of his person and quality with decency; that he may be furnished with ability to do good, may provide well for his family, may be hospitable, may have wherewith to help his brethren; for if, according to St. Paul's injunction, a man should “ work with his own hands, that he may have somewhat to impart to him that needeth ;" then must be that hath an estate be careful to preserve it, for the same good purpose.
It is his business to cultivate his mind with knowledge, with generous dispositions, with all worthy accomplishments befitting his condition, and qualifying him for honourable action; so that he may excel, and bear himself above the vulgar level, no less in real inward worth, than in exterior garb ; that he be not a gentleman merely in name or show.
It is his business (and that no slight or easy business) to eschew the vices, to check the passions, to withstand the temptations, to which his condition is liable ; taking heed that his wealth, honour, and power do not betray him unto pride, insolence, or contempt of his poorer brethren; unto injustice or oppression; unto luxury and riotous excess; unto sloth, stupidity, forgetfulness of God, and irreligious profaneness.